SpaceX launched one of its Falcon 9 rockets yesterday, placing the first of its Starlink broadband satellites into orbit.
While the company did not plan to recover the Falcon 9 booster, it did attempt to recover the payload fairing for the first time.
The payload fairing is a nose cone which protects the rocket’s payload from aerodynamic forces and heat, which detaches once the craft has left the atmosphere.
SpaceX planned to recover the fairing by catching it in a giant net attached to a ship.
The fairing was outfitted with directional thrusters and parafoils, which piloted it back.
Elon Musk stated that the fairing landed a few hundred metres away from the ship, and the addition of larger parafoils to slow its descent should allow the ship to catch the fairing in future.